The name Billabong is quite common in Australia. Even outisde OZ it is popular, particularly among the fans of beach fashion. Interestingly, in Australia few people understand the original meaning of that word. Billabong is a lake, a kind of local waterhole attracting many Australian animals. Today I would like to share with you what we have seen just there on the billabong.
The origin of the name of this animal is quite funny. When first European settlers came to Australia and saw such a strange animal they asked the local Aborigine people “what is that?”. The locals responded, kangaroo, which in one of the dialects meant “I do not understand” … your question. And so the name stuck. Another interesing kangaroo fact is related to the Australian emblem and the coat of arms, which features a kangaroo and an emu. Why have those two creatures been honored with such a disitnction? It turns out that these two animals cannot move back at all.
This is quite a strong metaphor for an army, which cannot retreat. Back to some kangaroo trivia, it can only jumps on its two hind legs and cannot walk. Surprisingly, while swimming they can move their legs independently. Though an adult can grow to be the size of a grown-up man, just after birth it is very tiny measuring around 2,5 cm!
As for the kangaroo meat, personally I do not recommend it.
While spotting a roo in Australia is easy, meeting eye to eye with a koala is quite rare. Arguably, it is the only “bear” that can be patted safely . In fact, koalas are not related to bears at all. Look at their paws. How many thumbs can you see? Yes … two per each hand. Most of the time koalas spend hugging eucalyptus branches and feeding on its leaves. Such a diet has stupifying effect on them. Koalas are very pleasant to interact with. They like patting and feeding. The name of the animal again comes from one of the local dialects meaning “animal, that does not drink”. Indeed, koalas are hardly ever seen drinking at the billabong. They absorb most of the water from the leaves.
It is hard not to mention wild dingoes here. Contrary to a common belief, dingo is not a native animal to Australia. Most likely it was brought here from Asia by seafearers around 4000 years ago. Initially it was a domesticated animal. Coming to Australia it became wild again. Since that time they have played an important role in both the natural balance and the Aborigine culture. Dingoes are well adjusted to the harsh climate of OZ. They are several times smarter than domesticated dogs and have very sophisticated hunting techniques. They also pose danger to people. The ones we patted were mild since they were born in captivity.
Concluding, I want to mention a rather unknown flightless bird, i.e. cassowary. When reading about it you can find a few interesting descriptors such as “the most dangerous bird in the world” or “the gardener of tropical forests”. As for the danger, cassowary has razer-sharp claws. Feeling threatened it can badly hurt its victim, including humans. Its role as a tropical gardener comes from its diet rich in fruit and seeds that the cassowary spreads around tropical forests in its scat adding some natural fertilizer . Its casque-like head makes it look funny.